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between iran and the embassy in lebanon. >> i almost resent your patronizing attitude you have to teach me about foreign policy. >> i served with jack kennedy. jack kennedy was a friend of mine. senator, you're no jack kennedy. >> that was really uncalled for, senator. >> all that trickle down, i call it niagra falls. >> senator dole and mr. kemp would put the the american economy and a barrel and send it over the falls. >> i see my wife and she's thinking i wish you would go in the private sec sor. zwl i'm going to try to help you do that. >> thinking of your plan, barack obama's offered a clear plan. >> your plan is a white flag of surrender. surrender. >> this is cnn. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com the vice presidential candidates, front and center
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tonight in a campaign that's very close once again. >> just 26 days before the election and we're seeing these debates tonight. >> a young gun republican appearing in his first national debate. >> we can turn this around. it is not too late to revive the american dream. >> an experienced democrat, returning to a familiar stage. >> they just have no credibility. it's not just what you say, it's what you don't. >> both energetic defenders of their parties, policies and parties at the top of the ticket. >> barack and i will not let you down! >> we need to elect this man, mitt romney, the next president of the united states. >> tonight, joe biden and paul ryan in their only vice presidential face off. >> we are going to give you a clear choice. >> he has a fundamentally different view. >> the vice president setting his sights on the romney ryan
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economic plan. >> we've seen this movie before. it ended in a catastrophe. >> the the congressman taking aim at the obama-biden white house record. >> you can turn on the tv and you can look at how the obama foreign policy is blowing up in our faces. >> the candidates know the debate stakes are higher after ryan's boss scored and biden's boss stumbled. now, c nnn's coverage. >> we will take responsibility and own up and get things dope. >> america's coming back! we're not going back! we're going forward! >> the nation is watching. voters want answers and america's future is up for debate.
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this is danville, kentucky. the sight of tonight's debate. joe biden and paul ryan is getting ready for their only chance to compete face to face on the issues. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world to debate night in america. i'm wolf blitzer. tonight, these candidates need to prove to voters they're qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. we're going to give you an exclusive look at the set-up for joe biden's debate preparations and dana bash has an exclusive interview with paul ryan. >> joe biden is 69. you're 42. a generation plus older. how much does that play into the preparation? >> i'm used to that. i became a congressman when i was 28 years old. i'm used to serving with people who are older, debating people who are older. >> we're going to hear more from congressman ryan and bring you an exclusive interview with joe
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biden's son as well. we're also mobilizing the full resources of cnn for our coverage. let's bring in anderson cooper. >> during the debate, we are going to clock the time that candidates get to see how much time they each get to talk overall and about each specific issue. we'll also get immediate reaction to what vice president biden and congressman ryan are saying from a focus group of undecided voters. their responses will look like this, the lining going up and down, in response to what the candidates are saying. they need to impress undecided voters the most tonight. let's check in with soledad o'brien. >> here from our perch along with about 1400 people will be watching the debate. it's a great way to get a sense of what the crowd is thinking, also of course the moments and
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zingers. we've really got a bird's eye view, not only of what's happening on the stage, but what's happening in the crowd as well. >> thanks very much. we'll check in with you soon. we have seen the presidential race of course tighten in the last few days after the first obama romney debate. john king is at the magic wall right now. >> it has tightened dramatically. that's the big question. these are not usually the debates between the number two's game changers, but colorado has tightened. wisconsin, so has ohio and virginia and florida and new hampshire. the big challenge tonight for paul ryan is to keep the republican momentum going. joe biden walks out tonight trying to stop it. >> there are two very different vice presidential candidates and they face very different challenges. tonight, we have exclusive reports taking you behind the scenes of paul ryan and joe biden's debate preparations. first, biden. breanna keilar is joining us
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from the debate hall. >> we're out there doing a walk through of this debate hall this afternoon. the vice president retired to a home not far from center college. he reviewed some of his notes. got in a nap or rest i'm told by one source for about an hour or so and he had dinner with his family and a team of aides. he's been getting ready for this night for months, but most of the prep took place the last few days during an intensive debate camp. as cnn first brought you exclusively, these pictures show joe biden practicing for debate night. >> i would describe him as method cal. he always prepares. the thing he prepares for the most the political debates. >> biden spent the last four days at this sheridan hotel in
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wilmington, delaware. the set-up shows a ballroom complete with a similar blue backdrop, red carpet and table shaped like the one he'll share with his republican rival. just like in these photos, biden will be seated on the the left. paul ryan on the right. across tr biden and ryan, martha raddatz. campaign sources acknowledge there are two unknowns in debate prep. raddatz doesn't have a history of moderating and -- they're looking to biden's sparring partner who serves alongside ryan on the house budget committee. >> he's a very skilled debater. i hope i can be of some help. showing how paul ryan likes to present the republican case.
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>> cnn has also learned aides have pored over ryan's past interviews. watch this. >> you and mitt romney are proposing $5 trillion in tax cuts. you're proposing to increase defense spending by $2 trillion. >> neither of these numbers are accurate. >> biden himself acknowledges he will be ready to respond if ryan disputes his record. >> i just want to make sure that when i say these things, no, no, no, i don't have the position or that's not the governor's position. >> to fully prepare, biden had a strict daily ritual. afternoons where biden rehearsed answering moderator questions. dinner time at home with his wife and after dinner, biden returned to the hotel for the 90 minute mock debates took place. biden's team wants to make sure you don't see any of those
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gaffes he's so notorious for. >> there's nothing about joe biden that i think people in this state don't like about him and love about him. >> but it can be a hard line between speaking from the heart and moments like this one last week on the middle class. >> how they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that's been buried the last four years. >> or in august, speaking to an audience that included many african-americans. >> he's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. unchain wall street. they're going to put y'all back in chains. >> and in this colorful one in 2010, congratulating the president on the passage of obama care. >> biden's pension for going off message even became an issue in a 2007 primary debate.
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>> can you reassure voters in this country that you would have the discipline you would need on the world stage, senator? >> yes. >> but for all of biden's foot in mouth moments, they don't usually pop up in debates. >> hey, can i call you joe? >> his 2008 performance against sarah palin was gaffe free. >> looking at paul ryan versus governor palin, does it make a difference who he's -- i mean, it has to make a difference who he's debating. >> look, he prepared very, very hard for the debate against governor palin. now, obviously paul ryan has intimate knowledge of the budget. >> has he read and reread the ryan plan? >> i'm confidence he's becoming very familiar with the plan. he's preparing very, very hard for this. >> i'm told by a source familiar with the vice president's preparations that he's been ready himself not only on sub tans, but also on tone. whether it's a paul ryan who
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comes out mildly or very aggressively, wolf, it's not every day that you get to give the vice president of the united states a hard time. sounds like chris van hollen may have had that opportunity in practice. >> thanks very much. anderson, back the you. >> we're joined by david gergen, gloria borger. what are you personally going to be looking for? >> i'm going to be looking for fun. i think this is going to be one of the most entertaining debates of the year. >> because the stakes are higher. >> and we've got two really interesting personalities. and they do represent two very different philosophies. about which road this country ought to go down. i think it's going to be one of those debates. ryan versus biden, that's going to be terrific. >> we haven't seen a lot of joe biden lately. >> by accident? >> i don't think it's an accident. i think this is campaign time and there's no room for error
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and i think that he's been focused on the debate prep, but i also think he's not out there since he gave his "meet the press" interview in which he sort of preempted the president on the question of gay marriage, right, so i think they kept him corralled to a degree. >> and in a debate like this, no matter how much preparation there is, you not corral somebody. >> on the sarah palin debate, he was disciplined. he didn't want to be condescending to sarah palin. he was debating a woman. i mean, and so, he does have that kind of discipline in a debate. it's when he's out on the campaign trail that he tends to have problems, but i agree with dan. this is going to be a lot of fun. it's also three debates in one. you're going to do foreign policy. you're going to do immigration. you're going to do medicare. you're going to do all the issues the american people care about. >> the rules are different -- >> importantly. last time, we had the 15 minute pauses. supposed to be six of them.
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this time, there are going to be nine segments. each one ten minutes long and each candidate has two minutes apiece to answer the first question. i don't know whether martha raddatz can hold it within that or not. joe biden likes to talk. right? and i think ryan likes to talk. it's going to be interesting. whether they'll let the other person talk or talk over them. >> and ryan can be kind of wonky sometimes, so if biden challenges him on medicare for example, his challenges, because he's very wonky on budget facts, his challenge is to sort of ek plain. >> the ek appearance of debating. biden just by the years under his belt, he's had more debates, more time on the campaign trial. >> i think biden, because of his age, has the advantage of being the wise man on the stage. but he has to be very careful not to look like he's not over
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the hill, like he doesn't have the energy. he's not losing it. that happened to reagan once in '84. meantime, paul ryan can take advantage of his youth and vigor. paul ryan, he's attractive to a will the of women. and -- >> there's something for everybody today. >> no, no -- >> admirers out there as well. >> i saw what scott graham did in massachusetts a couple of years ago. made a big difference on the women's vote. but he has to worry about being compelling. >> i want to bring in our other contributors. paul ryan is sharing secrets about his debate preparation and you may be surprised to find out just how long he has been studying. ♪
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you're looking at the hall right now in kentucky. centre college, danville, where the debate will be taking place. congressman ryan says he expects biden to attack him quote like a cannon ball during their debate. we have a behind the scenes look at the preparations. dana bash joins us now from the debate hall. >> that's right. they were intense preparations. today though, paul ryan had a pretty relaxed day. he worked out. spent some time with his family and check this out. he came here to the debate hall to get a sense of what it is like on that table or that stage. i talked to a source close to him. he used three words to describe his feelings. in the zone. cnn has learned paul ryan started prepping for this debate virtually the moment mitt romney
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picked up. >> i do a lot of reading. that's what i've always done. briefings of reading. >> just look at this monstrous briefcase he carries everywhere. >> it's pretty heavy. >> is this the keys kingdom here? >> and i can open by binder for you. i just like to study the issues. >> his brother tobin is with him a lot on the trail and gave us the scoop on the constant cramming. >> they carve out 30 minutes here, 45 minutes here, if possible, two hours here. if anybody encroaches on that time, you hear it from many, many people that you can't do that. >> and when ryan gets distracked, who else would he blame but his brother? >> i end up being his scapegoat. oh, tobin's interrupting me again. >> it's not just study, it's role-playing. martha raddatz is played by carey heelly. in the role of biden, ted olson, a renowned former solicitor general who argued cases before
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the supreme court. >> he has sort of immersed himself into being joe biden. hotels around the country, where ever i am. >> how does that work? >> we sit around the table. we have a moderator and he and i debate each other. he knows my record. he studied it. what mitt and i are offering. >> a source tells cnn during the firsthandful of practice sessions, olson would break character, but during the past week, he has stayed in character as biden, pounding ryan. ryan notes he is a member of the house with experienced debating. >> i don't think that's a fair description of your plan. >> in 2010, we went toe to toe with president obama at a house gop retreat. >> i want to just push back a little bit on the underlying premise. >> and he knows what it's like to sit opposite joe biden. this was a 2010 health care summit.
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>> now, i'll simply say this. i respectfully disagree with the vice president. >> steve king is ryan's long time supporter and friend. >> he's going to treat joe biden no different than he treats a person in a town hall. >> the the difference is that biden is going to be -- on him. >> he'd be tougher, but can't be any tougher than somebody screaming or hollering at him in a town hall. >> i'll debate these points anytime with you. just call me. my number's 262 -- >> if you're yelling, i want to ask you to leave. if you're just going to scream out like that, it's just not polite to everybody. >> still, ryan's brother says this process has been a difficult transition. >> he writes his own things. he's probably having more help now that he's not used to. >> far different from tobin ryan's early experience helping
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his 28-year-old brother prepare for this. his first congressional campaign debate. >> we had about you know, eight sheets of one sided paper that listed out issues and you didn't really have to prepare paul. you know, this is a guy that does more in a day, absorbs more in a day than i think is humanly possible. >> now, ryan sources insist that if four candidates are involved, he maybe has the toughest job. he not only has to remember his own record, but he has to learn the guy at the top of the ticket, mitt romney's record, learn his lines and make sure he is clear on how he's going to talk about the differences. there are minor difference, but some are pretty big. >> and how you knave gait those. >> one quick paragraph. mitt romney made a call to paul ryan today from the campaign trail from new hampshire to wish him luck. >> that's nice. how is paul ryan preparing or
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changing his preparations in the wake of the presidential debate that passed? >> to me, this is so interesting. they've been doing this prep for more than a month, but in the past week, what i'm told is that they focused much more on the things that president obama left on the table. the infamous 47% line. the bain capital issue. even romney's taxes. because they feel inside the ryan camp it is of course going to be the kind of thing that vice president biden comes at him with because president obama got so much, flak, especially from democrats for not using some of his best arguments in there. >> they're expegting it this time around. back to anderson. >> actually, you're sending it back to me, soledad, but i want to thank dana for the excellent work she just did. when i spoke with mitt romney earlier in the week, he tried to lower expectations for his running mates performance as for joe biden, his son, beau, is talking about his dad's plan to stay discipline ed tonight.
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stand by for cnn exclusive interviews. first though, this debate flashback. you're the one that was making a comparison -- >> in 1988, during the campaign, quyale had been saying he had as much experience as jack kennedy did, so he was primed for that. >> senator, i served with jack kennedy. i knew jack kennedy. jack kennedy was a friend of mine. senator, you're no jack kennedy. >> it was such a zinger of a line that people love ed it. it became the line of that debate.
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assume that president obama will be watching the vice presidential debate. we're told mitt romney definitely will. i had an exclusive interview and asked him about his own debate and the challenge with paul ryan tonight. are you confident paul ryan will take on joe biden thursday night? >> you know, i don't know how paul will deal with his debate. obviously, the vice president has done i don't know 15 or 20 debates during his lifetime. experienced debater. this is i think paul's first debate. i may be wrong. he may have done something in high school, i don't know.
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it will be a new experience for paul, but i'm sure he'll do fine and frankly, paul has the facts on his size. he has policy on his side and we have results on our side, so i think he'll, you'll find in the final analysis that people make their assessments on these debates not so much by the thee at ricks, but on whether the policy's been described will make their life better. i just think that the american people think the president's policies are not something we can afford for four more years and they want something new. >> let's walk over to john king. he's got the latest poll numbers. we saw a nice little bump for the, for mitt romney as a result of that first presidential debate. >> that could be an issue tonight. before the presidential debate, we were talking about a growing obama lead in wisconsin. a lead in virginia. decent obama lead in florida. a lead in new hampshire.
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those are all toss-up states. nevada, one of the toss-up states. romney had been doing better in the west, but still, a boost there. that's a dead heat. a statistical tie in nevada. over to colorado. i was there a little more than a week ago. a very close race. post debate, bang. a dead heat. statistical tie. quinnipiac "new york times" poll in "new york times." it's been reliablely blue. had been going the president's way. he's still on top, three points. again, another battleground put back into play by the first debate. here's one the romney campaign is encouraged, but they have work to do. they were down in some eight or nine points. now back to within five or six. cnn poll has it at four. clearly, still a lot of work for romney.
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let's keep going. virginia, we saw polls before the first presidential debate starting to stretch outside the margin. back to a dead heat. that's nbc news "wall street journal" mars poll and down to florida and here's another one. it started to open up a handful. there is no question, no question, the race changed after the the first presidential debate. romney got a bounce. but when you get a bounce, the challenge is to sustain it. that's the big challenge. can paul ryan keep the republican momentum? >> so, it's narrowed in these battleground state, but is there any indication that first debate created new battleground states? >> some evidence. i'm a bit skeptical. but one state where the numbers changed, mitt romney's birth state of michigan. his dad was governor there. our cnn poll had it close to ten points. looked like no way the republicans could put that into play. three points. so that's within the margin of error. that sheds michigan back into
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play. do the democrats now think we have to spend money here? we have to send the candidates. no candidate have been there in some time. here's another one here. this is the state of pennsylvania. 43-40. this had been a state where democrats thought locked up. we don't have to spend any resources. when something like this happens, it often dissipate. gives romney right now has a nor rower path to get to 270 than the president, but if the president is playing defense in michigan, even just with campaign ad spending, visits with the president, if the president's starting here, it makes other opportunities for governor romney on the map. >> give us a scenario how mitt romney wins the presidency. >> the biggest, the way they look at it is three, two, one. three meaning you take the three most republican states over the course of the history that barack obama won in 2008. those states are indiana, north carolina and virginia. there's your three.
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if that happens, then governor romney's at 219. the next two states, big prizes that have a history of voting republican, florida and ohio. ohio is the tough one. that puts governor romney in command of the race. if he does the three and two, then he just needs one. if he can stay over this part of country, make sure he locks up north carolina and virginia. he's got indiana. florida and ohio are tougher and he needs just one. no republican has ever won with the state of ohio. what gets more difficult if the president keeps, a small lead, obama lead in ohio. if the president keeps that, then romney's math gets much harder. >> i know ohio, obviously very, very critical. anderson, back to you. >> let's talk to alex castellanos, can a vice presidential debate really affect those numbers? >> it's tough. we've been showing these
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highlights. the late geraldine frar row standing up to president bush. benson's ticket lost that race. it was very difficult. if i were advising biden, i'd say you've got to get the momentum back. we want to hear more not just about 47% and the mistakes romney's made, but the real ideas. want tax cuts if the rich. >> if biden does well tonight, does that change the sort of median narrative? >> sure. i think it can. i don't think -- this is very important for the democratic base. democratic base didn't get a chance to hear that old time religion from obama last week. i hear it from my friends. the sense of deflation, looking in the rear-view mirror now. i think tr biden to come out, give the religion, remind meem what this fight is about is important to get the energy
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back. >> i don't think biden can win it tonight. but i think biden can stop some of the bleeding tonight and that's important. you know, something big happened in that first debate. barack obama has not had a campaign for president. he's had a campaign to stop from getting elected president. a negative campaign. when he didn't show up in that debate and when romney did and looked like an acceptable republican, the one campaign he had, the anti romney campaign got a big crack in it. he needs a campaign. he doesn't have one now. if he doesn't begin to get one tonight with biden and next week, candidacies can collapse. right now, there's no campaign in obama world. >> great thing about it, biden's been under a rock, he's been out there firing up the grass roots. >> we need to understand what happened in this debate wasn't just that romney was so good.
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it was that he defied his absurd mischaracters of him. but he also, wasn't a bounce so much as it filled the empty space that was holding him back because people wanted, primaries they said this and they've been saying it in the romney polls consistently. we want to know what a romney presidency will look like, so ryan's job tonight is to broaden and deepen what a romney presidency would look like. >> do you believe though that romney, you're a republican. do you believe romney moved to the center in the debate or do you think that's the real romney that the media hasn't allowed to get out? >> the people who are most delighted, ecstatic, with romney's performance were conservatives. i was ecstatic. i don't think he moved anywhere. he explained in a way that we know mitt romney. but he -- >> with all due respect, you are not a right wing nut. and what you were hearing was somebody supporting free markets, which you like, but i
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talked to some people who are to the right of you -- >> there's nobody to the right of me. >> no, to the right of you and who said we had some questions about mitt romney during that debate, but we're going to hold our fire. we're going to hold our fire until he wins. once he wins, we're going to watch him. >> i know mitt romney's mitt romney's a friend of mine. that was mitt romney. >> where's he been for the past year and a half? >> he's a very conservative guy when it comes to family and faith. the other mitt romney that's always been there is this fix it guy. this pragmatic business guy who transforms the olympic, invents a new way to do business in america. that mitt romney is always -- that's the guy we saw in the debate. >> he walked away from everything. but all politicians move and they are slick. he stood up there in that debate, i think part of why the president was so flat footed, he
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didn't think he was going to campaign against a guy in a debate who would walk away from a central economic promise he's made in a campaign, who post debate now has said gee, i don't want new abortion laws on my agenda. are you kidding me? it really is -- >> his website was different than what he was saying. his web team had to catch up to the changes he made. >> why the president can't go there? because no one has changed positions in policy more than this president. earmarks. i'm against them. he accepting them. guantanamo. no. increased spending to increase the the deficit. >> while you watch the debate tonight, get instant reaction debates live blog. just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? we'll be right back.
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in 1994 when george bush sr. was in a debateferaro, he appeared to be patronizing toward her. >> let me help you with the difference between iran and the embassy in lebanon. >> and she answered right on the button. >> let me just say first of all that i almost recent your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy. >> that moment, i think, solid fie e fieded the idea that a woman had the right to be there as a vice presidential candidate. all energy development comes with some risk, but proven technologies allow natural gas producers to supply affordable, cleaner energy, while protecting our environment.
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we're standing by for the first and only vice presidential debates in this election. will joe biden and paul ryan get the same amount of time to talk and if not, will that affect voter's opinions? look what happened during the first presidential debate last week. barack obama spoke about just under 43 minutes, but four minutes longer than mitt romney who talked about 38.5 minutes. that wasn't necessarily an advantage for the president. because romney was widely considered to have won that debate. there was less of a gaffe during the vice presidential debate four years ago. joe biden spoke just under 40 minutes. sarah palin spoke for 40 minutes and 29 seconds. biden and palin stood at podiums. tonight, biden and ryan will be sitting together at a table and that will affect the way they interact, possibly also the amount of time they talk.
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jessica yellin is at the media center. jim acosta is in the spin room. jessica, set the scene for us. what's going on? >> hi, wolf. i'm actually in the media filing center. this is where the press from around the nation, actually from around the world. there are some people in from koer countries, have come to watch the debate and file their stories. you can see around here, here's our sister company, mark halperin and people from press from all over the place. filing and this is the gymnasium for centre college. usually, they play basketball and sports in here. but tonight, we're watching a different jousting. >> i'll be watching it on tv. thanks very much. jim acosta is in what they call the spin room. they're not spinning yet, but they will be after the depate.
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>> that's right and i had to chaps to talk to a top ryan aide this afternoon. these are the surrogate signs you see in the spin room after the debate. these staffers will be holding these signs to direct reporters to various surrogates in the room. i have one for brendan buck, a top spokesman for ryan. also, a fixture on capitol hill. this top romney and ryan staffer told me earlier this afternoon, you're going to see a lot of these signs. they are planning to flood the zone, you might say, wolf. hopefully, more than the obama campaign in their words an we saw a lot of that at the last debate because mitt romney was deemed the winner. we saw a lot more of those republican survey dwarogates th obama. this is where the romney ryan campaign is sort of setting up. they're doing a lot of live interviews from here on the other side of the room just doing this very quickly.
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the obama campaign. you can see the forward sign behind me. wolf, i had one of these behind me earlier this afternoon, we heard from the romney campaign, hey, do we have to have that sign behind you? just to show you how conscious of the optics they are even when the media is doing their live shots. >> thanks very much for that. the debate is a good reminder that the men vying for the number two job might wind up being president some day. both joe biden and paul ryan tell voters the truth. what's going on. we're going to find out more now from john berman. you've been checking the chams. what are you finding out? >> the candidates continue to war on taxes with paul ryan claiming that president obama wants not just to raise them on small businesses, but to put them over 40%. >> what president obama wants to do is raise the top tax rate on our successful small businesses
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and manufacturers. above 40%. >> so, what are the facts here? the top rate paid by small businesses would rise to nearly 40% if the bush tax cuts expire on those top earners as president obama wants. many small businesses are taxed as individuals. now, the rate on small businesses would go above 40% if you included additional taxes on the wealthy. some small businesses at the very high-end could end up with a tax rate of more than 40ers. i want to shift to medicare. this has been a huge discussion on the trail and will be tonight. i want to look closely at some claims by the vice president. that the ryan plan, an early version, could cost thousands. >> the first plan that my counterpart, congressman ryan introduced, pushed through the house of representatives and got past the the author of a plan the so-called congressal budget
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office said that plan would cost the average senior $6,400 a year more. for the medicare. >> so, let's look at the facts. the $6400 does come from an analysis, an early one, offered by paul ryan. the budget office says the difference could be that amount over time. but listen to what joe biden went on to say. >> governor romney although he probably has forgotten it, governor romney said at the time, the house passed this bill, knowing the cost to seniors in the future said where i'm president, i would sign that legislation. now granted, that's not their plan anymore. >> biden's right. the ryan plan changed in the spring and romney this summer abandoned any growth on vouchers which means in theory, seniors would not get hit with that
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$6400 bill. but the independent congressional budget office has not analyzed the new one yet. everything vice president biden says is true. he really does offer a pretty complete timeline here of the medicare plans. anderson? >> to be the's vice presidential debate comes just five days before the second obama romney face off. candy crowley the going to moderate the tnext debate. from your perspective, what are you going to be watching for tonight? >> i'm going to be watching to see what new questions come up. 90 minutes sounds like, oh, my goodness, 90 minutes. it's never enough time. so what's left on the table? you don't want to when you go into a debate, you don't want to ask questions that anybody can google. you want to see what new frontier you can open up that's meaningful. you don't want to go into especially the greek debt crisis, no offense to the people who want to hear about the greek debt crisis, but in general, you
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think most people aren't going to kind of form their opinions about that. so you want to open a fertile field, but a new one. so it's what i did in the first presidential debate was sit around and say, okay, this one, answer, we're not going to get -- you always know when you interview a politician. politic, there's only so far they're going to go. you know when you hit the limit of the information they're grog to give you. it becomes a rabbit hole you run down. >> one of the things we were talking about during the break is the role of the vice president in this debate. you were talking about the number one rule. >> number one rule to me for a vp, and any of these guys are able to discuss it, but it's the do no harm rule. first what you want to do is not mess with the guy at the top. sure, it would be great if biden could come and stop the romney rush and it would be great if paul ryan could keep the romney rush going. but the number one rule is don't hurt the number one.
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first, do no harm. they're kind of physicians tonight. >> david? >> i just learned tonight for the first time, in our reporting, that these two guys are going to be sitting at a table, not standing at podiums. my working assumption is that it makes it much more difficult to go on the attack. >> i think as we saw, it makes so much difference whether they're standing or sitting, it makes a difference to the moderator. one of the things jim had to deal with, i thought they were going to be seated as well at the first debate. so that surprised me when they showed up at podiums. so here the moderator is sitting and the two guys standing. so it's a power position. it's very hard for us to get in each other's face when we're like this. >> i think joe biden might find a way. >> there's spirited and there's
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hostile. >> you can't put the shiv is quite the same way. >> et tu, brutus. the vice president is loyal to his president, but he has to defend the indefensible here tonight. but let me tell you what's wrong about that. so you hug and then you fight up close. >> do they get checked for shivs? >> and seated is more conversational. but you're not required to be aggressive about the guy sitting across the table from you. the really difficult thing in the next debate is it's a town hall setting. when i worked for clinton and you were working for bush and president bush had to go on the attack.
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soo as soon as he started, a guy stood up and said, stop with the attacks. >> you must have hated that moment. >> it was my cousin, george. no, i'm just kidding. >> paul ryan talks about his personal relationship with joe biden in our exclusive interview and our group of up decided voters, they're going to tell us what they want to hear from the candidates tonight. we'll check back with them later on after the debate to see if they heard it and if anybody's mind was changed. first, this debate flashback. ♪ >> each candidate will have two minutes for an opening statement. >> in 1992, when perot had chosen stockdale as his vice president, stockdale appeared to be stunned. he almost didn't seem to belong there. >> who am i? why i am here? >> it made no sense to the audience and it hurt perot's credibility as a presidential candidate.
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[ female announcer ] with cisco at the center, ♪ (train horn) vo: wherever our trains go, the economy comes to life. norfolk southern. one line, infinite possibilities. looking at a live picture. this is the debate hall in danville, kentucky. we're going there in a moment. when the vice presidential debate starts, our focus group will rate what the candidates are saying as they say it. our own erin burnett is with a group of them in virginia. we chose virginia because it's a
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crucial battleground swing state. >> it is a crucial state. when you think about it after the last debate, you had a swing of as many as six points. virginia is a crucial state. old dominion university is where i am tonight, and we have 31 people out of 7,000 people that were called and e-mailed by smu, they spent all this time reaching out to undecided voters. these dials, you can see they go back and forth. they're going to rate it from a scale up to 100, like it or loathe it. you'll see the lines on the bottom of your screen. i have to tell all of you viewers, we had 39 people at our focus group in colorado and they nailed it. three days later as there were more analysis and reports coming out about who won and how, the colorado voters called it. so you guys have a big burden
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tonight. so what do you want to hear? >> anything to do with the troops, the environment, and just what their plan would be to help improve the status of the united states. >> troops obviously defense very important here. a question to jim. what are you looking to hear tonight? >> i'm looking for concise viewpoints to distinguish between the candidates, that's mainly what i'm searching for. >> concise and distinguishing, not always easy, but two people here will try to do that tonight. we'll be back and explain a little bit more when i see you in a few minutes. >> thank you very much. we also measured the reaction of undecided voters during the first obama-romney debate. these colored lines show us how they responded. the green line represents men. the yellow line women. tonight we'll tally the ups and downs just as we did last week. and mitt romney had the most high points that night, seven, compared to four for president obama. there were fewer low points.
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one for each candidate. clearly romney had an advantage with our focus group of up decided voters from colorado. he was widely considered to be the winner of the debate, as well. we'll see who has the edge tonight. cnn's coverage of debate night in america continues right now. >> the fight for the number two spot at the white house. joe biden and paul ryan in their only vice presidential debate. >> we cannot afford four more years like the last four years. >> we are so much better than these guys give the american people credit for. it's not even funny! ♪ >> we're going to ask the wealthy to pay more. >> a rising star, known for his controversial budget plan. >> if we don't tackle these problems soon, they will tackle us as a country. >> joe biden's sop on his dad's rehearsals and his top goals
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tonight. >> he spent a lot of time figuring out how to take the 90 minutes and communicate directly to the american people. >> and an interview with paul ryan about the challenge of facing off with a more experienced debater. >> intimidated at all? >> i'm not intimidated. i'm actually excited about it. >> now cnn's coverage of joe biden and paul ryan head to head. >> we will take responsibility and own up and get things done. >> america's coming back! we're not going back! we're going forward. >> the nation is watching and america's future is up for debate. ♪ this is center college in danville, kentucky. it's the backdrop for another
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important night in a very close race for the white house. vice president biden and congressman paul ryan, they will appear together in this hall very soon. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world to debate night in america. i'm wolf blitzer. we could see more fireworks in this biden-ryan debate than we did last week when the two candidates faced off. stand by for a cnn exclusive. interviews with paul ryan and joe biden's son, bo biden, on the political attacks that we may, repeat may, see tonight. we have our political team devoted to bringing you comprehensive debate coverage. let's begin with anderson cooper. >> it's going to be an exciting night. we'll show viewers who may just be joining us what they see during the debate, what they're going to see, what you're going to see. we'll clock joe biden and paul ryan to see how long they discuss particular issues and how much talk time they get overall. also, our focus group of
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undecided voters will be reacting in realtime to what the candidates are saying. their responses will look like this on your screen, and you can tell how they're reacting with the lines going up and down. now let's go back to soledad o'brien. >> folks are just starting to stream in. we've seen a large number of people come in over the last 20 minutes and take their seats, even though they have an hour before this debate gets under way. right below me and in the nose bleed area, a lot of students. we talked to students and people in the community. the students were in a lottery system. 125 were able to get tickets. further down right by the stage, you have the biden and ryan family sitting there, being able to watch in front. a third of the tickets went to the romney campaign, a third of the tickets to the obama campaign, a third of the tickets to the committee of presidential debates. so we have a good view of what
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the crowd is feeling and sensing. we'll be able to see exactly what happens on the stage of course, as well. anderson? >> soledad, thanks. let's see how tonight's debate fits into the bigger picture. john king is at the magic wall for this. >> these are the vice presidential candidates, but they have an interesting role in the campaign. they're debating tonight. let's break this down. here's where joe biden spends his time on the trail. look at this concentration in blue collar communities in the battlegrounds. that's joe biden. let's put a circle on these communities. that's where joe biden spends most of his time. now look at this, joe biden from scranton, pennsylvania. paul ryan from janesville, wisconsin. most of their time spent right here, they are the blue collar warriors. expect a lot of talk tonight about the middle class. >> let's get to our interview with congressman paul ryan. he tells dana bash that his
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debate preparations have been lengthy and thorough. a lot like the way he gets ready to go deer hunting. >> i want to start by telling you what a source who i spoke with said about you and how you prepare for hunting. you wash your clothes and shower in nonscented detergent. i know that this is somewhat typical for hunting, but you take it to another level. >> if you're into bow hunting, that's the way to do it, to be successful. i like the strategy of bow hunting and it takes a lot of preparation. i do take it seriously, because i'm much more successful if i prepare the right way. >> how does that speak to how meticulous you are? >> i've just always believed if you're going to do something, do it well. you're talking about the debate. joe biden has been doing this a long time. >> you better have helicoptering ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the green zone,
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where i've been at seven times and shot at. >> he's been on this big stage many times before. that's new for me. i'm just doing my homework and studying the issues. i know how he'll come and attack us. the problem he has is, he has barack obama's record he has to run on. >> are you intimidated at all based on the background that you just described? >> i'm not intimidated. i'm excited and it. >> i know you have a large brief case. can you show us? >> sure. >> i can barely lift it. >> it's a little heavy. what is it, 30, 40 pounds? >> at least. >> i've got a lot of binders. >> is this the keys to the kingdom? >> i'm not going to open my binder for you. i just like to study the issues. >> in all seriousness, is that where you keep the binders that are preparing you for the debate? >> absolututely. >> generally, how are you preparing? you're doing a lot of reading. >> i do a lot of reading, briefings and reading. >> you're not just doing it for yourself but the guy at the top
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of the ticket who picked you. >> yeah. joe has done this for decades. ran for president, did all those presidential debates, sitting vice president. so he clearly goes into this with a whole lot more experience than i do. this is the first time i'm on a stage like this. >> you said this is new for you. i want to show you a picture that might be a blast from the past. >> that's my first campaign. that's my lucky irish tie. >> you are going to wear that? >> i don't know. i have to dig it up. i've had seven elections and i think that's the tie. >> back in that race, your opponent is quoted as saying she's old enough to be your mother. joe biden is a generation plus. he's 69, you're 42. how much does that play into your preparation? >> i'm used to that. i came into congress when i was 28 years old. i'm used to serving with people who are older. i'm used to debate people who are older.
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>> it's not a secret that joe biden is going to come after you on medicare. >> i look forward to it. >> i've heard you explain and defend your medicare plan 100 times. but is there a different way you have to do it in this kind of forum without your charts and graphs? >> i like to use charts and graphs. this is an issue i've worked on quite a bit and it's very personal to me. it's been very important in my own family's life, for my grandma, my mom. if we keep kicking the can down the road, people in retirement get hurt, they get cut. this is a promise that was made to people. so you need to reform it for your generation, for my generation if we want to save it in tact for the current generation. the biggest mistake that was made to medicare is obama care. i'm excited about pointing that out, and i'm more than happy to talk about the bipartisan solutions that we've offered. >> the last big moment on a big
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stage was your speech at the convention. >> right there at that plant, candidate obama said, i believe that if our government is there to support you, this plant will be here for another 100 years. that's what he said in 2008. well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year. >> you got hammered a little bit by democrats and even some republicans for some things that you said that were maybe loose with the facts. >> they weren't. i stand behind everything i said. if you try to distort what i said and say that was loose, that's one thing. let me make it clear. i think you're talking about the janesville plant. we never accused president obama of shutting that down. that happened before he came into office. i made that clear. he came to our plant and said that he would lead an effort to retool it to keep it open for 100 years. >> my question is more broadly
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about how you are preparing for the debate and the whole question of fact checking. >> there's a lot of partisanship behind that. there's a lot of political operatives that try to take advantage of those words. we are going to give the country a clear choice. >> the only other perp to debate joe biden in a vice presidential debate is sarah palin. have you called her for advice? >> no, i haven't. >> would you call her? >> sure, sure. >> she famously or infamously said that she wanted to call him joe because she kept called him joe o biden in debate practice. >> i've known him for a long time. i know him as joe and he knows me as paul. we know each other. we've gotten along quite well over the years. i like joe personally quite a bit, i just disagree with his policies.
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>> now, with about 50 minutes to go until paul ryan takes the stage here, you might be wondering is he wearing that lucky tie? he is dressed and ready. and i can report to you, the answer is no, he's not wearing his lucky tie. >> you asked him if he would call sarah palin for advice because she had done a debate with joe biden. did he? >> no, he did not. i checked just to make sure there wasn't a last-minute phone call to the one person that has debated joe biden on the vice presidential stage and the answer is no. >> how do you think it changes the dynamics, the fact that paul ryan and joe biden know each other? >> talking to paul ryan, i think it does change the dynamic, because first of all, just the physicality of it. you see it behind us. they're sitting at a table. even if they didn't know each other, it makes it much more intimate. but they have worked together four years in congress and in recent years across pennsylvania avenue when the vice president was dealing with issues that
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they disagree with. they know each other and they both tend to have that kind of -- they kind of that folksy rapport and it will make this a very different kind of debate they saw. >> it is a strategy they try to use very effectively, trying to outfolksy each other. >> thank you very much. let's talk to our contribute fors, alex castellanos, paul begala, mary madelyne. alex, you said you were going to hear that a lot, i like joe, but. >> when you're that close to somebody, it's just tough. you're an anchor at cnn. that's one of the amazing things you guys do is press people to their face to hey, that's not what we asked you. that's harder for most people to do. that's hard to do when somebody is sitting across the table. but paul is right. it's different when you're talking about the two bosses that are not there. there is a liberating aspect of this today.
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they're talking about, you know, obama who will be watching somewhere on tv and mitt romney. so this could be get pretty free wheeling. >> paul ryan does have a tough job in that not only he has to defend his own positions but has to know mitt romney's positions, because there is some daylight between the two. >> there is, and their relationship is much newer. the obama record is the biden record, so the vice president must know it. if he messes tha es that up, it huge mistake. once the president decides, the vice president falls in line. so no one will cut him slack if he gets something wrong about the obama-biden record. congressman ryan has only met mitt romney a couple of months ago. but i hope this is about like the medicare proposal, that governor romney has embraced that is one of the most toxic things i've ever seen in a poll.
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and now they're trying to run away from it like the devil runs away from holy water. >> barack obama is the president. mitt romney is actually the challenger. the reason we have this -- >> thank god. that's why medicare doesn't have a voucher. >> we're talking about mitt romney has to defend this. no, they don't. >> that's going to be the objective of biden to put them on. >> they didn't bring a game because they don't have a game. their game has been to attack romney and ryan. >> that's a game. >> yes, to us it's a game. to voters dshl >> it's a strategy. if a man is proposing to turn medicare into a voucher program. if paul ryan says 60% of americans are makers, not takers, it's an obligation to highlight that. >> paul ryan is not going to let himself get sucked into defending a position he doesn't hold.
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>> one of the things that's difficult with the media is we focus on the horse race aspect of this. there's a horse race aspect. but there's a history aspect. this guy could be president. paul ryan could be president. so it's very important for us to pay attention. he did in fact say 60% of americans are makers -- are takers, not makers. he said that social security is a ponzi scheme and socialism. >> joe biden's oldest son says his dad knows how to land a political punch. we'll be right back. [ woman ] it's 32 minutes to go time, and the candidate's speech is in pieces all over the district. the writer's desktop and the coordinator's phone are working on a joke with local color.
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it's debate night in america. we're counting down to the only faceoff between the vice presidential candidates. vice president biden and congressman paul ryan will appear on stage together at center college in danville, kentucky. martha raddatz of abc news will be the moderator. she's being urged to exert tighter control. she'll ask questions about domestic and foreign policy. let's go back to cnn's soledad o'bri o'brien. what's going on there now? >> it's filling up, wolf. it's virtually full. the room holds roughly 1,400 people and most of the people are sitting down. the folks very close to the front of the stage are standing and chatting.
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it is freezing in here. the room is kept as a negotiated 65 degrees. most of the people have been handed this, womlf. it is the 2012 vice presidential program. the room full of students and some elected officials and some local folks who all said they're excited to be part of history. we're told that vice president biden's motorcade is making its way here. we're expecting that to have for you when he gets here. >> the campaigns always want it cold in the auditorium. they never want to see the candidates sweat. remember richard nixon back in 1960. we'll find out if tonight's debate has standout moments that people will remember for years to come. john king has been taking a closer look at highlights from the vice presidential debates.
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>> they don't often change presidential campaigns. this is the biden motorcade arriving at the site. we know he's getting ready for the debate moments away. it's not about big policy, but there can be great theater. and sometimes that comes as the candidates try to make a first impression. >> who am i? why am i here? >> i would like to start by offering you a deal, jack. if you woman use any football stories, i won't tell any of my warm and humorous stories about floral carbon. >> it's not their job to promote themselves tonight. their job is to promote or take aim at the men atop the ticket.
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>> 9:00 the economy was strong. 11:00 that same day two mondays ago, john mccain said that we have an economic crisis. that doesn't make john mccain a bad guy, but it does point out that he's out of touch. those folks on the sidelines knew that two months ago. >> we're tired of the politics as usual. i do respect your years in the u.s. senate, but americans are craving something new and different that's going to come with reform that's why we need to send the maverick from the senate and put him in the white house. >> that was four years ago. and sometimes you see one candidate often the less experienced candidate in the debate like john edwards in 2004 try to get under his rival's skin. >> i think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. i think they love her very much, and you can't have anything but respect for the fact that
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they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter. >> let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. i appreciate that very much. >> you're welcome. >> that's it? >> that's it. >> that's it. clearly dick cheney did not want to spend a lot of time there. you see dick cheney and john edwards seated. they've both spent a lot of time on sunday shows, a familiar setting sitting down, up close to the moderator. >> it would have been a different debate last week if the three of them would have been sitting around a small table as opposed to the podiums. it will be easier for martha raddatz tonight. >> easier to keep control and you tend to have more of a conversation. it tends to be more casual and friendly. john edwards and dick cheney not so much, but when you're
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sitting, they know each other. you tend to be more casual. you will hear a little joe and a little paul as opposed to mr. vice president and mr. chairman. >> we're only minutes away from the vice presidential debate. bo biden spoke exclusively to cnn this morning about his father's practice session and his tendency to go off script. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] its lightweight construction makes it nimble... ♪ its road gripping performance makes it a cadillac.
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looking to show a live shot of senator rand paul in danville, kentucky, getting ready for the big debate night
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tonight. and joe biden has been studying up for tonight's debate and spending a good deal of time with his son, bo. the delaware attorney general moved in with his parents while his home is being renovated and spoke this morning before he and his father flew to kentucky for tonight's debate. take a look. >> how does living together work when he's here prepping for debates? >> we've got to make sure the kids are a little more quiet and when he's prepping. but my dad is a dad and a grandfather. my kids adore my father. and so, you know, like last night, we had a nice lasagna dinner and my dad is working hard, but he's also being a dad and grandfather. >> i heard the other week he helped do the laundry? >> the week before he was home, too. he's working his tail off, but not -- he stayed with the kids again. he got up in the morning, we got
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the kids off to sunday school. and in between that, i saw him coming out of the laundry room with a pile of laundry. he got that taken care of and cracked his briefing books. he's working really hard. but it's what the american people see in my father. which need a normal life. >> let me ask you about tonight. the president himself said he was too polite in his debate. will your father go on the attack because president obama was too polite? >> we'll see tonight, right? my father is always respectful and he will be tonight. but he's going to -- >> that sounds like a yes. >> we'll see. >> would you expect him to draw sharp contrasts between himself and congressman ryan? >> he's going to try to communicate to the american people the stark choice we have to make on november 6. and it is a very stark choice. >> that sounds like a yes. >> i'm looking forward to the debate. >> how does your father find
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that balance where you go on the attack, but on the other hand, you have to remain likable yourself? >> the debate with governor palin was instrucktive on that. i think there's a lot of talk about the process stories going into that, how do you debate governor palin? what i've seen him doing is he is himself, and he is as respectful to his opponent as he has been in every election he's been in for the course of 40 years now. and be prepared to understand what your opponent is about and most importantly take an opportunity to talk directly to the american people. >> bo biden gave us a clue about the vice president's offense tonight, which will hit romney's performance last week. >> a great benefit of being my father is that he doesn't have to contort himself into different people at different times.
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unlike, by the way, governor romney did. governor romney was a fundamentally different person in that debate than he was in the 15 or so debates that you covered. >> does your dad believe that paul ryan will be a different person on that stage than he's been in congress? >> that will be the test, won't it? the test will be whether or not paul ryan becomes a contortionist and tries to twist himself into a person he's not or whether or not paul ryan is true to the things he's been true to over a decade in congress where he wants to voucherize medicare and cut pell grants and cut head start, where he wants to cut veterans benefits. so we'll see whether or not paul ryan is more like the paul ryan over the last 10, 12, 14 years. >> you say your father is your father, he is who he is. he's also somebody who makes a lot of gaffes. is there any room for that tonight? >> my dad says what he means and means what he says. >> right. >> a gaffe is when mitt romney goes to great britain and within
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24 hours offends our closest alley. >> well, but your father has had his share. >> by father says what he means and means what he says. tonight, though, you'll see a person who is disciplined like you said in the debate against sarah palin. you'll see him a very focused, you know, vice president who is prepared to debate paul ryan and communicate and talk to the american people. >> why sometimes is he so unpredictable? >> i wouldn't say he is. he's blunt. he tells people -- you don't have to guess what my dad believes. the reason, though, they would go after him, i think, is because he lands punches. he's the single best communicator of the middle class out there. >> when you say your father lands punches -- >> he connects. he connects with the middle class in a way that i don't think governor romney is able
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to. >> or paul ryan? >> well, we'll see. we'll see. >> if he's the best communicator for the middle class, he's been under raps. he hasn't had a sitdown interview for months. >> the last one he had was the "meet the press" interview in which he pre-empted the president by saying he supported gay marriage. there's no room for error right now at the end of a presidential campaign. when he's on the stump, joe biden said the middle class has been buried and i guarantee paul ryan will raise that in this debate. he's out there campaigning, though, in key battleground states. >> he hasn't had a rough and tumble interview.
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>> i think it is a training ground and there is a good chance that he will be disciplined tonight. but the obama white house isn't sure of that. that's why they put him under wraps for five months. i can't remember a vice president -- because the vice president is really important to you in your campaign as a spokesman and often an attack dog. so i think it's been a mistake to do that and paul ryan has had 200 interviews in the same period of time. so even tonight when paul ryan is here on cnn talking, they use his some as a surrogate. somebody said something, who was an aide to joe biden, and i like joe biden personally a lot. but he said joe biden is a little like a box of cracker jacks. you never know what prize is going to come out. >> you worked in the white house for republicans and democrats. who has that conversation with the vice president when they're not happy with something? >> well, i would imagine the
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word was passed not by the president but one -- >> i think after that interview joe biden went to the president. that's a conversation the president has with joe biden. but i think what's delicious about tonight, as just a viewer, is that the president didn't have a great debate, and the president had to come out today and say let joe be joe, which he probably doesn't mean. and then joe biden has to have a great debate to really stop the bleeding. >> we should rename this delicious debate night. gloria, david, thank you very much. let's check in with soledad at the debate hall. >> you know, the program officially is under way. right at the half hour, there's this hush that fell over the whole. and a representative for the commission of presidential debates came out and welcomed everybody. this is a home coming, you remember the 2000 vice presidential debate was held here.
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there are folks we have been spotting in the seats behind us. let me tell you who you've seen, dana. >> the most interesting so far is ted olson. he is really almost he could be the eyesight of paul ryan. the man who spent the past month flying around the country with paul ryan, doing mock debates, playing the role of joe biden and i'm told that he was very much in character, especially the last week or so. he didn't break character. he tried to be right down the line joe biden. the other person that is interesting who is down there is reince priebus the chairman of the republican committee. he's known paul ryan forever. they're from the same distribute in wisconsin and they're both young and grew up together in wisconsin politics. >> we've seen rand paul, as well
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and other elected officials. what are you watching for tonight? you've got roughly 25 minutes before this officially gets under way, the actual debate. >> the thing i love is you can say you're watching for something, but i feel like at the end of the night, whatever happens is nothing that we could have necessarily predicted. so that is the beauty of it. but right now what i'm looking for, i'm looking toward the foreign policy section of this. you have joe biden, who really has a leg up when it comes to foreign policy, having been the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee and paul ryan doesn't have that experience, but at the same time, the obama-biden ticket is so vulnerable when it comes to libya. i want to see how he handles that. >> it was interesting hearing mitt romney talk about paul ryan's lack of experience. >> exactly.
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obviously they're in a much, much smaller scale. and a tiny little stage compared to what is going to happen tonight. i think the most analogous is the kind of debating we saw earlier. one on one with the president of the united states at the gop retreat that they had a couple of years ago, the health care summit where we went head to head with joe biden. so he has experience on a national stage. nothing like this. >> it will be interesting to see how this plays a difference in that. thank you. >> thank you very much. the applause obviously coming in. let's check in with our other reporters on the scene for us in kentucky. jessica yellin, first to you. you're in the spoon room right now. there's going to be a lot of spinning afterwards. after the first presidential debate, it took the democratic spinners a while to get there, because they suspected the president didn't do all that well. >> that's right, wolf.
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the room was filled immediately after the presidential debate with the surrogates for the republican campaign. but it took a while for the democrats to come in. that's not the case this time around. the room is filled with plenty of democrats. i have one with me right now, senator dirk durbin who has known president obama and vice president biden. you're a co-chair of the obama campaign. the president said that he was a little too polite in his debate last week. are you hopeful that the vice president is a little impolite tonight? >> no, i wouldn't go that far, but i want him to be direct, to address the issues. i think the president missed some opportunities. i think he would be the first to confess that. i know joe biden, chairman of the foreign relations committee, chairman of the judicial committee. quite a career in the senate. he is also a person that listens carefully to people and he understands some of the things that governor romney said in the campaign reversed course on in the debate. >> that will be a point that he
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will come out with tonight. one of the most important goals for the vice president tonight is to make the economic case for the campaign. it will be important for him to be on offense instead of defending the president's record. how does he do that? >> the one thing the president should have brought up more often was romney's position, which said let the automobile companies go bankrupt. he wrote an article in "the washington post," that was the headline, let them go bankrupt and thousands of american jobs would have been lost. if we're talking about a president who is going to lead this country in creating jobs, you wouldn't allow a sector like the automobile businesses to go bankrupt. i know that the vice president zeros in on that point. it means a lot across the midwest. >> i imagine he brings up congressman ryan's budget and tries to draw mitt romney to it and there's probably a lot of pressure on him tonight, as well. senator dirk durbin with us. back to you, wolf. >> let's go to jim acosta.
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he has a guest, as well. jim? >> that's right. i'm with senator john thune from south dakota. senator served with joe biden in the senate and paul ryan in the house that. means you can handicap both of them tonight. >> it will be an interesting debate. joe biden is a very colorful guy. of course, paul ryan always does his homework. when he came to the house of representatives, he immersed himself into the details of policy. he will be very well prepared. what i hope to see tonight is just the clear contrast that exists in terms of the go visions for this country. that will come out clearly tonight, because they will be able to mix it up when it comes to the big policy issues. i know paul ryan and governor romney want this election to be about big things. i hope we have an opportunity to debate some of those, because the country has some large challenges ahead of us. >> senator, joe biden has made
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it sound as if he's going to get in there and it might be scrappy with joe biden and paul ryan. do you think paul ryan is ready for that? >> i do. paul ryan is a very competitive guy in every aspect of his life, particularly when it comes to explaining complex policy issues. i think he'll be very ready and able to mix it up. i think vice president biden is going to be a little more aggressive coming out of the debate. they'll probably spar a little early, but we'll see the contrast between the two visions. >> how concerned are republicans in congress about the word "voucher" coming out tonight? i would be surprised if joe biden does not go off paul ryan with the word voucher. are you comfortable with that coming up in this campaign so much? >> i think there probably isn't any better spokesperson on the issue than paul ryan. it's not a voucher. paul ryan will have the opportunity to explain that.
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he gets mischaracterized a lot. this is is an opportunity to get the message across about his ideas and his plans and what it consists of. and at the end of the day, it's governor romney's plan we'll be talking about. i think they're ideas that get at the fundamental problems we have as a nation. and i hope vice president biden has a response for that. >> senator thune, thank you very much. sounds like lit be a test of ideas and wills. wolf? >> at one point senator thup himself was considered as a vice presidential running mate. let's go to shannon travis right now in kentucky. he's with some students right now. what's going on where you are? >> reporter: actually, wolf, it's a mix of students and seniors here at this huge debate watch party, not too far from the site of the debate itself.
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students and seniors, because it's sponsored by aarp, it's a lot of music, a lot of food, a lot of fun times, but it's also serious business issue advocacy. in between the songs, there are speeches about voters getting out to vote. i'm just going to give you a little flavor of what's going on. organizers were hoping for 5,000 to 6,000 people. i would be surprised if it's that many. mostly people just sitting around on their lawn chairs. right now, they're listening to some speeches. the president of aarp just finished up a speech again, imploring people to vote. two key issues that they're pushing, two issues that you can imagine are important to retired people, medicare and social security. >> they're watching all over the country and the word. erin burnett is with a focus group of undecided voters in
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virginia right now. they'll be watching very closely, erin. >> they will, wolf. in fact, i think they have the hardest job of anyone around the word. they can't sit at home and talk to nip about this. they have to sit here, each of them with a dial and every single second of the 90 minutes, dial did they like or not like what they're hearing. you'll see the lines on the bottom of your screen and broken down by gender. there's some interesting things you'll see, what men and women like, or don't like about the individuals and what they say. so far i can tell you some things about the group. we have 31 people here. everyone is from the state of virginia. this is a crucial swing state. they would be determining who wins the white house. they were taking some poll results. if they had to vote today, of the 31 people sitting in this
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focus group, 35% of them say they would vote for the president, 32% for mitt romney and a third of them are undecided. we'll see if more of those become undecided. another crucial thing i wanted to highlight, let me ask you, how many are satisfied with the direction this country is going in right now? as you can see, just three or four, maybe five hands. how many are not satisfied with the direction of the country? you can see an overwhelming number of people here. this is something, wolf, we saw when we were talking to undecided voters in colorado, but that is the crucial question. not satisfied with where it's going, who is going to bring this country in a better direction in the next four years. back to you. >> thank you very much, erin. looking forward to seeing those squiggly lines at the bottom of the screen. we have producers and reporters working their sources to give us
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an advanced indication where this debate might be heading. let's go to peter handby, picking up stop information on paul ryan and what he may do in foreign policy. peter, what are you hearing? >> foreign policy will come up tonight for the first time in any of these debates. i just talked to the senate minority leader mitch mcconnell. he told me that paul ryan should go straight at joe biden and be very aggressive over the attack on the u.s. mission in benghazi and the administration's evolving story there. mcconnell told me that the story is "clearly a weakness for the administration." he told me "they just made something up that didn't happen and ryan should not be shy about attacking joe biden and barack obama on that." wolf, i talked to senator jack reed, obama ally in the senate. i asked him, you know, how
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should biden respond when this issue comes up? he said, look, we should broaden the story line about libya. we didn't send ground troops in. we used air strikes. we brought in our nato partners and talk about the positive ways the obama administration handled libya and that biden should point out that paul ryan's most recent budget in the house called for reductions in spending to the state department and he said that could jeopardize u.s. security and that biden should point that out. >> we know that half of the debate is supposed to be on foreign policy, national security. the other half on domestic issues. right now they're introducing the wives of the candidates. soledad, tell our viewers what you're seeing. >> that's right. the commissioner has been really running through the program as
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they head up through the start of the debate. interesting difference between the two wives. very different women, of course. >> very different, primarily because we do see jill biden a lot out there with michelle obama, talking about military families. jan ryan has not done any interviews. believe me, we tried. and she wants to maintain a low profile. she's raising her three kids. she simply has the pedigree to be able to get out there and talk about politics, but she's chosen not to. >> very interesting and very different than jill biden. martha raddatz is going to be the moderator for this debate. she's only two women moderating
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the presidential and vice presidential debate. it will be a very different tone certainly, and this is the introduction of martha. >> correspondent for abc news, martha raddatz. [ applause ] >> martha raddatz has now been introduced as the moderator. the way this is set up, it's a very different feel than the presidential debate we saw. >> it is different. and if they get feisty with each other, you're really going to feel it. and the other interesting thing, the biden folks say of course there's this question mark about paul ryan because he hasn't been tested in a national debate. martha raddatz really doesn't have a paper trail when it comes to moderating a debate. >> let's listen to martha raddatz as she addressing the crowd. >> that was not me. i am not the scolding type, so i am not really going to repeat
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all these things about turning off your cell phones. i'm just going to give you a warning. i was once in a white house briefing and my phone went off and my son, who is here somewhere tonight, had put in comillionare's "riding dirty." which is apparently hip-hop. so that broke up that, and i've never had my cell phone go off anywhere ever again. but i am very honored to be here tonight. it is a great opportunity. i'm going to sit here. i'm not used to -- i think a few of you know i've spent a good teal of time in war zones, so i'm not used to sitting with my back to the audience. and usually just sort of roll out and i'm on tv. so this took a while. but it is great to be here. i hope we have a wonderful and lively debate.
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and thank you all for coming. [ applause ] >> we were listening to remarks from martha raddatz, saying she's honored to be here. she says it's very unusual to be facing away from the audience and to have so much fuss, talking about instead of scolding the audience about turning your cell phones off, she just reminded her her own cell phone went off playing a rap song. >> breanna was making an important point. we talk about how the candidates are preparing to debate one other and they're doing as much prep as they can on the moderators. the ryan camp said they've found
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only one thing they found she moderated at a think tank. >> the question is, does she ask broad questions or stay topical and newsy? they're preparing more for newsy than you would have seen last week in denver because she has so much connection to the news of the day. >> for more specifics, let's go to wolf. >> thank you very much. our political director mark preston has been working his sources and he's there in kentucky. what are you learning, mark? >> we've heard the vice president talk a lot about growing up in pennsylvania, particularly his hometown of scranton. a senior official told me that if the vice president tries to emphasis his roots in scranton to relate to people struggling in the obama economy, expect that paul ryan will mention that the unemployment rate in scranton was 8.5% when barack obama took office and it's now 10%. they can't say people in scranton are better off now than
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four years ago. but i spoke to an obama official. they said expect the vice president to draw a clear contrast between the romney-ryan plans and the obama-biden vision for the future. and the vice president will talk about what the president has done for the middle class and emphasize this is about laying out our vision. wolf? >> interesting stuff that's going on. we're continuing to work our sources. we're only a few moments away from the start of this, the one and only vice presidential debate. let's check in with anderson. >> just give a quick primer to the viewers, what are each of you going to be watching for? >> i think can paul ryan keep the spotlight on the incumbent and his record tonight. because obviously we all seen the movie "air force one" where
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they drop the shaft to keep the missiles away from the presidential plane. that's what the obama strategy is going to be tonight. >> paul? >> about 20% defend and deflect, about 80% put romney on trial. that's joe biden's job. >> biden's job as we saw in the previous clips, this is what dick cheney did in his debates is to broaden and deepen an understanding of the romney presidency. that's what is missing and that's how romney got his momentum and there is nobody that can do that better than ryan. >> biden has to smash the etch-a-sketch. you can't let ryan pretend to be somebody that he's not. and he has to remind people of what we are fighting or. >> he has to supply the passion that was lacking in the last debate and remind democrats why they loved barack obama last
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time. and should this time. >> david? >> vice presidential debates in the past have been great ent entertainme entertainment, quickly forgotten. >> this is why we have elections. you've got a passionate advocate for conservatives, smaller government, take the power out of washington. and a passionate advocate for no, government should have a bigger role than this guy and his running mate mitt romney wants. if they can lay that out, that gives you a better choice. for paul ryan, it's about keeping the momentum. for joe biden, it's about bringing back democratic morale. >> paul, what do you think is going on behind the scenes now? we saw mitt romney watching a game of jinga being played which seemed to ming to stressful. >> al gore used to stand and we would put the notes on butcher
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paper and he would scan it around. and bill clinton would stand around and talk about mystery novels he just read. you have to find a way to relax him. i always felt like i was the goat they put in a stable before the thoroughbred races. >> if they're enjoying it, people will enjoy supporting them in this debate. that's a key. >> i'm trying to figure out why they put a goat in with a thoroughbred. >> a goat calms them down. >> i did not know that. >> you need to gamble more. >> definitely not a gambler. wolf, what are you going to be looking for? >> i'm looking for everything, because i love the domestic stuff and the foreign policy stuff. i want to see a great debate on the issues. let's see if the vice president learned some of the lessons from the last debate, if he is going to be as tough as a lot of people expect to be going on. i know they're both backstage
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right now. there are only a few -- two, three minutes from the start of the debate. i'm wondering as someone who has been there, how nervous do you think these two guys are? >> about as nervous as a hooker in church. this is a high-stress moment. >> i don't know what that means. do hookers get nervoer inervous church? >> i've been going to the wrong church. >> nervous as a porcupine in a balloon factory. >> wow, okay. john king, can this really change the narrative? if joe biden has a very good night, does that begin to change the kind of malaise we've heard? >> the principle reason for movement in the polls is the energy of the base of either party. the democratic base was energized after the democratic national convention. the republican base was
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energized after the debate. if joe biden can get the democrats back happy, back energized, back saying i want to play, he'll at least stabilize the race right now. one other point, paul ryan has one test that he has to pass. he's the sitting vice president. so a lot of people might not like him, but he's passed the test. paul ryan has to convince the american people if something happened to mitt romney, he can be president. >> paul ryan can do more for his guy than joe biden can. if he wins tonight, you get a sense of momentum. if biden wins tonight, you stop the momentum on the other side, but it's up to the president to come back in the other debate. >> and paul ryan is also evidence of mitt romney's judgment because he picked him. so paul ryan has to pass the test with the american people, because mitt romney said this man, god forbid something should happen, is qualified to be president of the united states. >> one of the things that's missing in this campa

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Debate Night in America
CNN October 11, 2012 7:00pm-9:00pm EDT

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